13. The Pyramid Club hosted Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Pyramid Club, which recently shut down at 101 Avenue A in October 2022, was an Alphabet City nightclub that had a major influence on the arts and drag scene of the city. After the Stonewall Riots, greater attention was devoted to drag performances throughout the city, and in the 1970s and 1980s, the Pyramid Club became a center for some of the most famous drag queens of all time including Lady Bunny and RuPaul. Years before hosting his namesake Drag Race, RuPaul had one of his earliest-ever performances in 1982 at the club. It wasn’t until 1989 that he achieved national fame. The outdoor drag festival Wigstock began in 1984 at Tompkins Square Park and was led by Lady Bunny.
In addition to drag performances, some of the most famous bands in history have performed at the club. Bands like Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave their first New York City performances here. Madonna’s first AIDS benefit concert was hosted at the club, just a few blocks from her former apartment. Andy Warhol also appeared in an MTV feature for the club, which had been frequented by Keith Haring and other figures in the LGBTQ movement. Attempts to landmark the club as a “drag landmark” failed, even despite performances from dozens of legendary performers. The building is part of the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District which was designated in 2012. The club closed at the beginning of the pandemic and reopened in briefly 2021 only to shutter again in the fall of 2022.